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- Brand: Orphan Barrel
- ABV: 45.1%
The Orphan Barrel whiskies are limited releases by Diageo, of rare whiskies from their warehouses (though, interestingly, not necessarily from Diageo-owned distilleries - so we do not know from whence they came). I guess it's the old "Hey, looky here! I found me some forgotten barrels o' hooch in the corner here! Yeehaw!" Sigh. And if you go on the website, that's pretty much what they're saying and how they're saying it (ugh). I mean, c'mon - if that were true, then how would they know that both of these bottlings have a mashbill of 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye? They are hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee. I'm reviewing the first two releases here (both bourbons, and both samples courtesy of @thecyclingyogi), the first one being Barterhouse 20 Year Old.
The colour is a semi-dark copper. On the nose, surprisingly gentle - very light caramel and vanilla, with predominantly honey, peach and butter cream notes. The oak is certainly there but it's not overwhelming in the slightest. Cotton candy at the fairground. John Hansell noted "orange creamsicle," which is bang on. Water brings out more oak and a tannic note. Lovely.
On the palate, darker honey and tropical fruits - this is the lightest 20 year old bourbon you've ever had! Lacks complexity in the mouth but it is smooth, creamy and luxurious. Water helps a lot though, adding some bite with liquorice and savoury herbs.
The rather short-ish finish has more "orange creamsicle" with oak, white pepper and tobacco. This is a very approachable, easy-to-drink bourbon. I can't believe it has spent 20 years in new white American oak. More complex on the nose than on the palate - to me it doesn't quite reach the heights I thought it might. Hansell scores this one a 90; myself, not quite so much but good enough to warrant the $US75 price tag (if you can find it).